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Supporting our people and customers

For over 117 years, we’ve been here for our people, our customers and our community. In response to COVID-19, we're adapting our services to keep meeting the changing needs and preferences of our customers.

The health and safety of our staff and customers remains our top priority. Since March 2020 we've implemented additional cleaning measures and taken necessary steps to ensure social distancing in our branches, and we’ve developed a COVID-19 Safety Plan to serve you safely. Despite these changes, we understand that you may prefer to do your banking from home or switch to contactless payments. If you are feeling unwell, please bank from home using the app, internet banking or call our local call centre team.  

As we adapt to navigate this challenge together, we know that some of our customers may be experiencing hardship. In March we introduced relief packages to support eligible customers and small businesses through COVID-19, including measures to help small businesses focus on preparing for recovery.

We also increased the capacity of our Hunter-based Customer Contact team to support you with phone banking, or help you to access internet banking and the app, if you prefer not to visit a branch. Our specialist lenders and financial planners are also available to support you over the phone.

Impacted by COVID-19?

We are here to help.

Home loan, personal loan, credit card and small business customers who are impacted can request a pause in their repayments for up to six months (including a 3 month checkpoint) if necessary, with interest capitalised.*

If you’re experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19, please email us

Adapting to help you

Help with your banking

Here for good

  • Financial strength icon Financial strength Australia’s largest building society.~
  • Better value banking icon Health focus Additional hygiene measures are in place to protect you and our staff.
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  • Community support icon Community support Over $2m invested in local communities each year.

Updates on COVID-19

We are committed to supporting our people and customers through the challenges resulting from COVID-19.

We continue to support customers who have deferred home loan repayments

As customers approach the end of their six-month loan repayment deferral period, Newcastle Permanent has announced an extension of support measures for home loan customers who continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Customers who are continuing to face ongoing financial difficulty due to COVID-19 at the end of the six-month deferral period may be eligible for an extension of their repayment deferral for up to an additional four months.

Newcastle Permanent’s Customer Assist team has maintained regular contact with the 1,200 customers whose home loan repayments were paused earlier this year.

Newcastle Permanent’s CEO, Bernadette Inglis said, “We understand this has been a distressing time for some of our customers. Through this difficult period, we will continue to support our customers to ensure the most appropriate solution for their individual circumstances.”

“We will continue to maintain the individual contact with our customers so that those who are in a position to resume their repayments can do so. We’ve already seen a number of customers do this.  For those eligible customers who are unable to resume repayments, we will work with them to extend their deferral or identify the most appropriate solution for their circumstances.”

A deferral extension of up to four months will not be automatic, and will be provided to customers who genuinely need some extra time. Many customers may need less than four months to either restructure their loan or resume full repayments.

If during or at the end of any deferral, customers continue to be severely financially impacted and are unable to make repayments, they will be assisted through our hardship process to determine the best long-term solution for their individual circumstances.

“We remain committed to supporting our customers during this time,” concluded Bernadette.

 

Any loan that has its repayments paused will have the interest capitalised during the deferral period, which means unpaid interest will be added to the outstanding loan balance. This means that repayments may increase at the completion of the repayment pause, which may also result in an increase in the interest paid over the life of the loan.

Increase in online services

Newcastle Permanent is continuing to adapt its services to support customers’ changing needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

With many customers still preferring to bank from home, we have expanded our online webchat service to make chatting to us on our website even easier. We have also implemented a new digital identification tool, allowing new customers to open an account via our online banking or app, and enabling customers to complete a home loan application without needing a face-to-face meeting with one of our lenders or their broker.

Meanwhile, calls to our Customer Contact Centre are returning to normal levels and our team there will return to standard operating hours 8am-8pm weekdays and 8am-4pm on weekends, from Saturday 20 June 2020.

As we all adapt to new ways of living and working in our community, at Newcastle Permanent we will keep looking for better ways to serve our customers where they need us most.

Newcastle Permanent is adapting its services to support customers’ changing requirements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes, which will be effective from Saturday 9 May, include extending the hours of our Hunter-based Customer Contact Centre, limiting the number of branches open on Saturdays, and retraining more than 30 staff to support the increased demand for the Customer Contact Centre and Customer Hardship Assistance team.

CEO Bernadette Inglis said the pandemic had significantly increased customer demand for non-branch banking services including online and contact centre services, and was the driving force behind increased requests for hardship assistance.

“We’re here to support our customers who are following advice of the authorities to stay home. We’ve seen a significant reduction in visits to our branches, with a corresponding increase of up to 50% in calls to our locally-based Customer Contact Centre and record levels of usage of online banking.

“A number of our customers are also experiencing the financial impacts of the pandemic, with more than 2,000 customers contacting us since mid March for support – more than double the volume we typically receive in a full year,” Ms Inglis said.

“In response to this, we’re adapting our teams to meet our customers' needs. We’ve provided further training and are re-skilling people from our branch network and lending teams to increase the capacity in our Customer Contact Centre and Customer Hardship Assistance team. Our teams are also working extended hours to respond to requests, and we’re grateful to our customers for their patience as we continue to respond.”

The following changes to customer services will be effective from Saturday 9 May:

  • Our Customer Contact Centre will extend its hours of operation each Saturday – our team will now be available over the phone until 6pm every Saturday.
  • We will not open on Saturdays in a number of our branches. However a Saturday service will operate at the following larger branches including Greenhills, Charlestown Square, Raymond Terrace, Glendale, Kotara, Mount Hutton, Swansea, Erina, and Tuggerah.

“We’ve announced a suite of support measures for existing business and personal banking customers to provide some relief through this challenging period and help them prepare for recovery. I encourage our customers to review the information available on our website to see if any of these measures can be of help to them."

“All our branches remain open as usual 9am-5pm Monday-Friday and we have also implemented additional cleaning and preventative hygiene measures within our branches, at our ATMs and in our workplaces."

“I’d also like to remind customers that we will continue to offer access to all of our services through this pandemic. With the expectation of ongoing social distancing measures for some time yet, we will continue to adapt our services to support the needs of our customers."

Newcastle Permanent has announced additional relief measures for customers through the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting small businesses and personal banking customers.

CEO Bernadette Inglis said she recognised that Newcastle Permanent customers were seeking support during this challenging time.

“Last week we announced our offer for home lending and small business customers to request a pause loan re-repayments for up to six months, and have had a significant response in requests for this assistance,” Ms Inglis said.

“In response to the rapidly changing financial landscape our customers are clearly in need, so we are expanding our relief package to support more small business and personal banking customers.”

Our expanded measures are designed to help our small business customers adjust their cash flow through this challenging period and help them prepare for recovery.

"Interest rate reductions on variable business loans and fixed home loans and a fast track process for overdraft limit increase requests up to $50,000 for existing overdraft customers are among a range of measures being offered to provide some relief,” Ms Inglis said.

“As a proud member of the community for 117 years, we hope these measures can offer relief and hope to our customers who feel the financial strain of the economic downturn from this pandemic,” Ms Inglis added.

How we’re supporting our small business customers:

  • Reducing business lending variable interest rates by 1.00% p.a.
  • Customers can request a pause in repayments for up to six months (including a 3 month checkpoint)* for small business loans, with interest capitalised.
  • Fast-tracking customer requests for increases to existing business overdraft facilities up to an extra $50,000.

How we’re supporting our personal banking customers:

  • Customers can request a pause in home loan repayments for up to six months (including a 3 month checkpoint)* for home loans, with interest capitalised. We will also extend this measure to our Credit Card and Personal Loan customers. 
  • Increasing our 11 month Term Deposit interest rate to 1.70% p.a.
  • Reducing interest rates for fixed rate home loans across most terms, by up to 0.70% p.a., available to our new and existing customers. Our standard variable home loan rates will remain unchanged.
  • Changes to business loan and home loan interest rates are effective from Friday, 27 March. Changes to 11 month Term Deposit interest rate is effective from Monday, 30 March.

How can customers access these measures?

Customers can complete our online customer support form, or email us. For those who can’t access our online form or email, our Hunter-based Customer Contact Centre is available by calling 13 19 87 from 8am-8pm Mon-Fri and 8am-4pm Sat & Sun.

A letter to our customers, first published in the Newcastle Herald 16/3/2020

To our Customers,

The success and wellbeing of our customers, our people and our community has always been our driving purpose. As we all work together to manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for our families and our communities, that commitment has never been stronger.

Assistance for customers in need

We understand that many people may be financially affected by the impacts of COVID-19:

  • Home loan and small business customers who are impacted can speak with us to request a pause in their repayments for up to six months if necessary.*
  • If any of our customers are experiencing financial hardship, we are always here to help with our MemberAssist service.Please talk to us if you are in need by calling us on 13 19 87 or visiting our website at www.newcastlepermanent.com.au/supporting-you.

Helping you with your banking

We are closely monitoring the latest advice from authorities and adapting our services as necessary to provide safe and easy ways for you to bank:

  • Our Hunter-based Customer Contact team is here to support you over the phone and to help any customers who may be unfamiliar with online banking or who would like to convert their account to be able to make cashless payments.
  • Our branch network, the largest in the Hunter region, is open for business and we are working hard to ensure that customers who choose to use our branches can continue to do so.

  • As always, customers can access their money at ATMs across Australia and use their payment cards in stores and to make purchases online.

  • Our online banking services help you to manage your money, safely and conveniently, from wherever you are.

  • Our specialist home loan lenders, personal loan lenders, and financial planners are available, including over the phone.

We have reviewed and amended the working arrangements of our people to support social distancing initiatives. We have also implemented additional cleaning and preventative hygiene measures within our branches, at our ATMs and in our workplaces.

Through this difficult period, whatever changes it may bring, we will remain true to our purpose.

Newcastle Permanent will be here for you and here for good, as we always have, for over 117 years.

Sincerely,

Bernadette Inglis
Chief Executive Officer
Newcastle Permanent Building Society

Newcastle Permanent statement regarding COVID-19 situation

We remain committed to heeding the advice of health authorities and doing our part to keep our people and community safe.

Newcastle Permanent will continue to support our people and customers through any challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic declared by the World Health Organisation this week.

We maintain assistance programs for any customers experiencing hardship, and through this will support customers in need. We understand that some of our customers will be financially affected by the impacts of the measures being taken to limit the spread of the virus, and our teams are available to help these customers wherever possible.

Australia’s customer owned banking sector plays an important role in supporting customers and communities through challenges such as this, so we encourage people to talk to us if they are in need.

We will continue to monitor the advice from authorities, and adapt our operations and response in line with this and our obligation to care for our people and community.

This includes cancelling this season’s last Cinema Under the Stars event, which was to be held tomorrow night, Saturday 14 March at King Edward Park. We know that this may disappoint some people, but we remain committed heeding the advice of health authorities and doing our part to keep our people and community safe.

We are actively informing and preparing our people, based on formal advice from health authorities, to ensure we can continue to support our people and serve our customers.

Our people are well prepared for business continuity in a variety of scenarios, and our plans are regularly reviewed for effectiveness and adaptability.

The safety and wellbeing of our people and customers is always the top priority at Newcastle Permanent, and that continues as we respond to the developing COVID-19 situation.

*Repayment pause would be implemented for an initial 3 months, and then reviewed. Any loan that has its repayments paused will have the interest capitalised, which means unpaid interest will be added to the outstanding loan balance. This means that your repayments may increase at the completion of the repayment pause, which may also result in an increase in the interest paid over the life of the loan. Customers can speak with us for the details on how this will work for their specific circumstances and loan.
Terms, conditions, fees, charges, eligibility criteria and credit criteria may apply. This information has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, before acting on this information, you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these matters and the product Terms and Conditions.
~More than $11bn in total assets, 2020 Annual Report.